Neon Lights and Acceptance


In the supposed most conservative campus in America, pockets of people have found a safe haven. Every Friday, the bar Stir in Auburn becomes a place of greater than average blush amounts, sassy retorts and freedom of expression.

Almost two hours is spent on getting ready for each show. Performers swap eye shadows, dig for the right pink lipstick, and do their eyeliner to perfection. Wigs are brushed and outfits are laid out as a steady stream of light girl power music is played, contrasting with the heavy bass vibrating the walls from downstairs.

Lotus and Imberli, Auburn residents, have heard of other bars targeting possible gay costumers, but say nothing negative towards them. Its right in this case to just be the better woman.

The other bars are missing a huge market however. Handful by handful, curious people have started frequenting Stir. Compliments and hello’s are given freely and judgment upon atypical lifestyles is not passed. The show starts when the ladies are ready, and the audience clambers to the front or to stand on barstools for a better view of the first performer that saunters out.

The queens balance delicately on 4.5 inch heels, strutting, tutting and twerking to the music they have selected for the night.

In between acts they joke with the audience and perform an orientation roll call that never fails to get the audience laughing.

For one night at least, there is no judgment. No one blinks at the gay couple dancing together and if shocked looks are thrown, it’s only to comment on the performers greater dancing abilities.

It is not the place is defining, it is the people. And the people of Stir have made it a place of neon lights and open acceptance.

To A Drag Show We Go

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For my FIRST (1) photo gallery ever, I had the stunning luck to photograph the lovely ladies of the drag show at Stir, a bar in downtown Auburn.

A few quick points if I may. I am only referring to them by their stage names. This is to protect their privacy and also because that is the image they portrayed themselves to me. I am also calling them ladies, because during the show and with some in their everyday lives, that is how they think of themselves. And honestly, look at them. If you had to pick between them or I being the drag queen I’m pretty sure I’d be called the guy 90 percent of the time. 

I spent the first part of the evening with Lotus, Imberli and Sapphire. Sapphire was the special guest for the night and Imberli and Lotus are part of the Royal Crew with Stir.

Let me tell y’all something, kudos to them. All of them. I almost broke an ankle walking up the ladder to their dressing room and they do it all the time, in sky high heels and restricting outfits, at times a bit tipsy. Their makeup skills exceed mine by an embarrassingly exorbitant amount. When I remarked about my poor contouring skills, Lotus was quick to offer me tips about everything from contouring to eyeliner to mascara that I had honestly never thought of to try. Imberli had a bag of jewelry, filled to the brim in an array of colors and sizes, that I was immensely jealous of.

For the show two other ladies showed up, Cotaliya and Tina. The bar was packed, so packed that people crowded forward near the stage, sitting on speakers and standing on bar stools to get a good view. There was a pretty much flawless rendition of Beyonce’s “Drunk in Love,” an on-point Miley Cyrus rendition and each of the dancers grinded, booty bumped, twirled and tutted* their way through the vibrant mixture of people while the bass jumped so much my teeth rattled. They have fun as they dance and as they take a break between routines to interact with the crowd. Everybody laughs and isn’t offended when stereotypes of gender, race and orientation are poked fun of, it isn’t mean spirited, it’s just a way to get everyone to laugh at themselves in one way or another.

Overall, the royal crew at Stir and their guest, Sapphire, were overwhelmingly welcoming. I spent about two and a half hours there, so obviously ten photos are not all I have to show for it, more pictures will come later.

“When you become the image of your own imagination, it’s the most powerful thing you could ever do.” -RuPaul

*tutting is a style of dance, creating geometric shapes with something as small as the fingers to the integration of the whole body.